Wednesday, March 19, 2008

March Matchups: Gordon Solie vs. Jim Ross

I am a bit disappointed to learn that Gordon Solie will not be going into the W.W.E. Hall of Fame this year. There’s still time, yes, but it appears as though the late, great broadcaster will not be chosen. For me this is a real shame.The ceremonies are being held in Florida the weekend of Wrestlemania 24 and it was in the “Sunshine” state that Solie made his mark.

“Hello everyone and welcome to Championship Wrestling from Florida!” That was what greeted fans who tuned in every week to watch one of the hottest regional territories around. Solie was called the “Walter Cronkite” or the “Howard Cosell” of pro wrestling by some, while most just referred to him as the “Dean.” My memories of Solie are of him hosting Pro Wrestling This Week, which aired on WPIX (Channel 11 in these parts) in the mid-1980's and was similar to This Week In Baseball.

They showed clips of wrestling action from all over the country, except for the W.W.F. (which did not want their footage aired on the program). Solie’s gravelly, but distinguished voice, gave the “sport” of professional wrestling validity. He was a great one! Sadly, though, he was also a big critic of Vince McMahon, thus this leads to speculation that perhaps he has not been inducted into the W.W.E. Hall of Fame for this very reason. We’ll see.

Solie died of throat cancer in 2000 at the age of 71.

We match Gordon Solie up today with Jim Ross, also known as “Good Ole J.R.” The man from Oklahoma started off in the biz as a referee back in the early 1970's, before going on to doing play-by-play for the old Mid-South promotion (which later became known as the Universal Wrestling Federation). When the U.W.F. was swallowed up by the National Wrestling Alliance (N.W.A.), Ross began to get more and more face time with both promotions. The U.W.F. used to follow Pro Wrestling This Week on WPIX in the mid to late 1980's and boy did they have some legendary performers.

Ross, with his southern drawl, would call all the matches that featured Steve "Dr. Death” Williams, The Fabulous Ones, the late Eddie Gilbert and future superstar, Sting. Many criticized Ross for his ebullience, that some believed was too excessive. There were others that made fun of him for his constant referrals to a wrestler’s college sports background. Nonetheless, Ross has gone on to great things and was inducted into the W.W.E. Hall of Fame last year along with his broadcasting partner, Jerry "The King” Lawler. The two are the main commentators for the W.W.E. and call all the action every week on Monday Night Raw.

It’s really hard to pick a winner in this one and perhaps it is unfair of me because I didn’t get to hear enough of Solie. Still, Jim Ross wins this bout. He may go a bit overboard in his reactions at times, but his enthusiasm is just unmatched week in and week out. Ross has tried his hand at football and if he were to do that full-time he would undoubtedly be a household name. I think he’s that good!

He's also got a great blog, just click me to visit.

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